Lighting an Interview On a Budget

Lighting an Interview On a Budget

In my most recent documentary, Impact, we wanted to go for a very natural and positive look. As most of you know, it is sometimes harder to make an interview look ‘natural.’ It soon becomes a question on how to cut and shape light vs adding it. In this post, I’m going to break down our process.

For our first interviews we had a 5 person team, lighting kit, grip kit, the Red Scarlet, and BMCC. For this interview we had a 2 man crew, 1 LED, reflector, silk, Canon 7D and Canon 60D. Makes me laugh just thinking about it! But, there’s no time to complain or make excuses. These were the tools we had and the show must go on.

The Space

One thing we had to our advantage was knowing the space we were shooting in. This allowed us to walk in and begin setting up without spending time scouting the location. I also knew that we didn’t have the lights to fight the large window in front of the building. Instead of working against it, we used it to our advantage used. We were lucky that it was an overcast day, so there was no need to put up our silk or try to cut down the light with our limited gear. Now, on to the set up.

The Set Up

lighting diagram

Still working drawing clean lighting diagrams, so I apologize if you can’t easily read my chicken scratch. What you see is an extremely simple lighting set up. Again, we had a great space with a lot of natural light so why fight it?

Moira WS_Colored_Sized

Chris and I auditioned a few looks and when we landed on this one we both knew immediately that this was the spot. The large windows gave us a nice soft key and helped bring up the room. Having a daylight balanced LED made our job even easier as we didn’t need to deal with gels. I threw a sheet of opal over the panel and bounced it off the mirrors mounted to the wall. I tweaked the brightness a bit (another great thing about LEDs) and then moved to the fill.

Moira CU_Colored_Sized

The fill was a simple 5-in-1 reflector on a stand. I auditioned a negative fill, gold, white and even a silk. The white gave me the softest bounce and the color I wanted. After a few minutes of tweaking I got it in the right spot and was happy of how well everything came together.

It would have been great to have a case of fresnels, an HMI, and a full grip kit, but sometimes you need to just work with what you have and make it work. Knowing the basic techniques of lighting can really elevate your game. I highly recommend getting a copy of The Set Lighting Technicians Handbook to gain more knowledge on the tools and techniques for lighting.

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